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Therapy Dogs "Speak" Amid COVID-19

Community Outreach |
Doylestown Health Therapy Dog

As hospitals work tirelessly to deal with the medical challenges of the coronavirus, emotional support has become a growing need during this extraordinary time. That's where the devoted volunteers of Doylestown Health's Animal Assisted Activity (AAA) program come in— stepping-up and fulfilling the need in the cutest way possible.

Therapy Dogs Offering Virtual Support

Using the power of creativity, ingenuity and abundant charm provided by the good boys and girls of the Animal Assisted Activity program, human volunteers produced a video that provides "words" of comfort from these multi-tasking therapy dogs.

"Our virtual pet therapy outreach is a new way to share our gratitude with the heroic staff of the hospital and to give our entire community a reason to smile during an incredibly challenging situation," says Joyce Rivas, advisory chair of the Doylestown Health Animal Assisted Activity team.

Doylestown Health has suspended therapy dog visits to avoid contact between human handlers and other humans in the hospital.

"Our Animal Assisted Activity volunteers share a quality that is prevalent at Doylestown Health during the COVID-19 pandemic: creativity," says Jim Brexler, President and CEO of Doylestown Health. "The AAA volunteers created a fun, new way to share their mission with others despite having to practice social distancing. I love how our volunteers found yet another wonderful way of cheering us up in difficult circumstances."

"Comments" from the Therapy Dogs

Sharon Sudell is the human creator of the Doylestown Health virtual pet therapy campaign. This fact is not lost on Nilla, Sharon’s golden retriever and master therapy dog, calling Sharon "very smart for a human.”

"In my more than 70 dog-years as a Doylestown Hospital volunteer, I've never been prouder of my courageous colleagues," says Scooter, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. I don't know how they get anything done without naps," said Scooter during a Zoom chat from her bed.

According to Bella, a petite pug who is thought to be the smallest of Doylestown Hospital's therapy dogs, "Humans have heard that they should wash their hands and stay six feet apart."

Noted Lowen, a 140-pound Leonberger who is the largest of the therapy dogs, "Humans still need to get that information in a way that encourages them to "obey."

One thing that all twenty-nine of the therapy dogs agree on "We hope this video will convince humans to act in a way that saves their lives and the lives of others. And we hope humans will smile when they see our mugs, too."

About Doylestown Health

Doylestown Health is a comprehensive healthcare system of inpatient, outpatient and wellness education services connected to meet the health needs of all members of the local and regional community. Doylestown Hospital, the flagship to Doylestown Health has 271 beds and a Medical Staff of more than 435 physicians in over 50 specialties. An independent nonprofit health system, Doylestown Health is dedicated to providing innovative, patient-centered care for all ages.

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